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District leaders review 2013, look forward


District municipal leaders took a little time last week to look back at 2013, as well as focus on upcoming topics including rural schools, mining, official town plans and bylaws, and the municipal elections that will take place in October.

“We had a good year. We certainly had some challenges around staffing but we worked through them,” said La Vallee reeve Ross Donaldson.

“We managed to keep our budget increase to a minimum of only one percent,” he added. “We got some work done at our hall, and our ball diamond.

“We’re facing some real challenges coming up and we’ve tried to prepare for those,” explained Reeve Donaldson, noting “increased policing costs, and increased share of things like social services because the towns losing a lot of their assessment” as things that will be affecting La Vellee’s budget.

“One of the big things we’re doing right now is fighting very hard to keep [Crossroads School] in our community,” continued Reeve Donaldson. “That’s a real challenge for us and it’s very important to everyone on council.”

But Reeve Donaldson remained positive in spite of the challenges ahead.

“I’m really hopeful for the mining in Chapple. I really believe that that’s going to go ahead, and very soon,” he noted.

“That’s going to be a big benefit for our community and we’ve tried to prepare for that through our official plan and planning for some development,” added Reeve Donaldson.

“It’s not all doom and gloom on the horizon—there is some good stuff out there that’s going to happen for us. I’m hopeful for the future. I really do believe that things will get a little better for us,” he added.

Looking months ahead to the municipal elections, he said he is likely to run for reeve again.

“At this point, I’d say probably, but not definitely,” finished Reeve Donaldson.

Emo mayor Vince Sheppard was kept busy this year with a wide variety of projects that will continue into the new year.

“It’s been a pretty busy year, there was a lot going on,” he remarked.

“We had our water project and we’ve just about completed with the water portion,” Mayor Sheppard said of the project to improve the towns water and wastewater systems.

“We have some finishing up to do in the spring, we have to go under the tracks and the highway on the west end of town,” he continued. “Also in the spring we have to upgrade our lagoon and our water plant.

“We still haven’t got our library fully accessible, we’re just waiting for an inspection for our chair lift and then that should be into place,” Mayor Sheppard noted.

“It also looks like we’re going to do accessibility for our arena,” he added, explaining that they are hoping to install another chair lift there.

“We’re also working on our walking trail, we have to get our bridge put in. We’re looking to complete that, but it’s all dependent on funding,” said Mayor Sheppard.

“We’re not sure yet what’s going to happen with [Donald Young School],” he said, explaining that in February a decision should be reached, and then they will know where the school will be built and if it will be combined with other rural schools in the west end of the district.

“It was a good year,” Mayor Sheppard recalled. “We got our official plan and our bylaws updated and into place.”

He admits it is a possibility that he will run for mayor again, but he hasn’t made a decision yet.

Things have also been busy in Chapple for Reeve Peter Van Heyst.

“Things are moving forward. We have a new official plan and bylaws which we have adopted. We also have a strategic plan in place now; it’s something to guide us through the coming years,” he remarked.

“We had a reduction in mill assessment, which put a crunch on our operating budget. Ainsworth is going to be transferred to new owners shortly; Louisiana-Pacific has bought them out,” added Reeve Van Heyst.

“Hydro One is building a new sub-station in Chapple, which will give the west end of the district reliable power for years to come,” he noted.

“We had Councillor Rick Neilson retire after 15 years of dedicated service,” Reeve Van Heyst commended, then continued, “We appointed Ted Zimmerman as the new councillor to complete the term.

“On behalf of the councillors and staff I would wish everyone a safe and healthy new year,” he finished, noting that he hasn’t decided yet if he will run for town council again.

In Alberton, Reeve Mike Hammond had a slow year.

“It went good for us, it really went fine. It was pretty quiet, we sat back and coasted through the year,” he remarked.

“We got a volleyball court put in at the Millennium Park,” he said, noting that as their biggest accomplishment.

“We haven’t got no plans yet,” he said of 2014. “We’re going to have a public forum so people can provide their input and put in their wish list. It’s still a little early to see what our plans are.”

The meeting is not yet scheduled but should take place soon into the new year.

On running for his position again in the fall, Reeve Hammond said: “I haven’t given it much thought yet, it’s quite a ways away. We’ll see what the people want and maybe somebody else wants to take over the reins.”

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